Recently, when the Principal of Wellington Muslim Association (WMA) Senior Secondary School at Peacock Farm was making a statement in a presentation ceremony, he emphasized that whosoever disrespects a leader is disrespecting the leadership of the Almighty Allah. He therefore admonished the gathering not to hate their leaders but to bless them.
During the debate on ‘more time’ for the President to stay in power, many political opponents and critics made vitriolic remarks against the President as if those in support of the campaign were speaking his mind. The former National Secretary General of the opposition Sierra Leone People’s Party (SLPP), Jacob Jusu Saffa, for instance, was so temperamental in his interview with Global Times newspaper that he even charged the President for allowing the APC National Youth League President to make such statement as if the youth leader has no freedom of expression. But one can simply understand the desperation of the opposition when fighting for state governance; campaign for the incumbent to prolong its stay in power would never make them comfortable. And I believe JJ Saffa granted the interview in that mood.
But thank God President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has allayed the fears of Sierra Leoneans claiming that the APC Government wants to manipulate the constitution for their Leader and Chairman to go for a third term. The President has said that people asking for more time for his leadership are speaking for themselves based on their own observations and assessments of the situations on the ground. The statements I like in the President’s interview with Newday Magazine at interview are these: “But for me, I am a democrat. I respect the law and will ensure that what is constitutional obtains. I will leave at the fullest of time.”
Like the admonition of the WMA Principal, we should always respect our leaders and have trust in them for whatever they say especially about issues bordering on controversy such as the ‘more time’ debate. If President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has told the world that he is a democrat that respects and will ensure that what is constitutional obtains, I believe he will definitely keep to his words because he has gained recognition in the international community as one of the democratic leaders in Africa and reputation for an exemplary work in his country. He would not want to sacrifice those remarkable achievements for the sake of prolonging his stay in power. Even before his interview with the magazine, the President had made it clear on several platforms that he would not stay beyond his second term of office as stipulated by the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone.
I will advise that we dismiss the ‘more time’ debate and be rest assured that President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma has no intention of manipulating our constitution to qualify him contest the next presidential election in 2018. But one thing I am very sure of as day follows night is that the governing APC would want to definitely stay in power beyond the next presidential poll. Therefore, the direction of the debate should now be ‘more time’ for the ruling APC to continue with its remarkable development strides instead of directing it to our President, the great democrat and champion of infrastructure development in post-independence Sierra Leone. Of course, the APC wants to continue in power until thy kingdom come especially when the country’s main opposition is extremely weak to provide a better alternative to state governance. The APC Government has done exemplarily well in the last eight years though it has its shortcomings like other governments in the world.
If the ruling APC should continue in power for many more years to come, they need to promote the socio-economic wellbeing of the impoverished Sierra Leoneans whose main assets are poverty and disease. Though we have improved in many sectors of development as a nation, yet abject penury is hitting hard as a result of poor terms and conditions of service in the public service, massive unemployment among the youths who comprised 55 percent of the country’s population, corruption and other vices undermining our economy. These are some of the Hercules heels of the APC Government which many people are criticizing particularly those in the opposition yearning for state governance. When once poverty is reduced, corruption minimized and job opportunities created in the country, Sierra Leoneans will not hesitate to endorse the APC in any national elections.
Another herculean task for the ruling APC is to start searching for another political ‘Messi’ to replace the two-time ‘World Best’ in Sierra Leone politics. And unlike the old APC, the Ernest Bai Koroma led new APC is not bankrupt of human resource to expect its stalwarts to be brooding over who should succeed their Leader and Chairman. There are many shrewd and reputable stalwarts with much experience in Sierra Leone politics from whom the party can elect or select its choice of leadership for the next presidential election.
The names of many stalwarts in the APC have been featured for the flag-bearership of the party. Some of the names are Vice President Dr. Victor Bockarie Foh, Vice President of Shandong Iron and Steel Company, Mr. Moseray Fadika, CEO of Sierra Rutile Limited (SRL), Mr. John Bonnoh Sisay, the National Deputy Leader and Chairman, Alhaji Minkailu Mansaray, who is also Minister of Mines and Mineral Resources, Minister of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED), Dr. Kelfala Marah, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Samura Kamara, Minister of Public and Political Affairs, Alhaji Ibrahim Kemoh Sesay; you name them.
Notwithstanding, what I have learned about the APC as a political party had never recruited a leader with no parliamentary experience expect for Mr. Ernest Bai Koroma whose election in the 2001 convention was so controversial that the matter ended in the Supreme Court until the case was withdrawn in April 2007 ahead of the August presidential and parliamentary elections the same year. But apart from President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma who became leader of the APC in 2001 with no parliamentary experience, all other leaders darkened the doors of Parliament before they took the leadership mantle of their party. Both the late Siaka Probyn Stevens and Joseph Saidu Momoh served as parliamentarians before they went to State House as Heads of State.
If parliamentary experience has to be considered by the APC for the election or selection of its Leader and Chairman, then Vice President Dr. Victor Bockarie Foh, who can read the Standing Order (SO) of Parliament extemporaneously to his credit, will have an edge over most of the names featuring for the APC leadership. But since the country is no longer practicing the parliamentary system of governance wherein all ministers are also parliamentarians, perhaps the presidential system of governance may force the party to shift the post. Whatever the case, the APC has a reservoir of shrewd stalwarts to choose its leadership from.